I’ve already explained my reason for writing, journaling, and blogging my story. But something was missing. I didn’t hit the mark. I talked about some things I hope to accomplish. But I think there is a greater mission. At the core, I think we ALL should write at least part of our stories and pass them down to future generations.
If you like following chains of thoughts, this is for you. It’s a bit of an odd story, and it begins with a terrifyingly graphic movie.
I was seventeen, living in an apartment with two friends. Brad Pitt’s new movie Se7en hit the theaters. I had no clue what I was in for.
I’ll spare you the film’s gritty details. Kevin Spacey plays this psycopath who has this secret room in his lair full of notebooks. They’re all journals in which he’s written all the details of his thoughts and experiences. And Morgan Freeman’s character marvels at the sheer number of notebooks, saying,
No dates. Placed on the shelves in no discernible order. Just his mind poured out on paper.
That was all it took. I was hooked. A chain reaction of thoughts set off in my brain that couldn’t be stopped. This man’s mind “poured out on paper.” Nothing lost. Everything preserved. It didn’t matter to me that he was evil, insane, and mentally unstable. He had accomplished something that made me envious. He hadn’t lost his thoughts to the ether.
How many questions had I asked without receiving an answer? How many intuitions had I forgotten? How many inspirations? No one would ever know again on this side of eternity.
Act on Inspiration, No Matter How Unlikely
That night, I began journaling. I was a frantic ball of teenage hopes, insecurities and emotional wounds, but I began recording every thought as it came to me. I knew that I could never capture everything, but I wanted to keep as much as I possibly could.
Twenty years later, Brad Pitt still looks amazing and I have about thirty journals full of ideas, questions, and concerns. My pace has slowed quite a bit and I have no illusions of recording every thought. My writing has seasoned over time, though the writing style itself could probably use some polish. But they’re my words. They contain my pursuit of the answers and ideas I’ve needed most.
Whether or not my grandchildren and great grandchildren ever choose to read them, I hope to give them the opportunity to know these three things:
- Where they come from
- What it means to be an adult in this crazy world
- They are not alone
As each child faces difficult questions for the first time, we often have no one beside us, talking us through the painful scrutiny of meaning and consequence. I had no one to talk with, and I believed my thoughts were mine alone. It was very isolating. How many years were wasted and opportunities lost because I didn’t know what I didn’t know?
Just this week, I was reading the memoirs of a local Franklin, TN man. He was asked to speak publicly about what he saw in WWII at Dachau, which he had never been able to bring himself to talk about. One of the survivors told him,
You know, when you die you are going to take all you know with you. Nobody will ever be able to know what you saw.
The same is true for what we learn. For our experiences. We don’t have to share them. But what we fail to share is lost forever. And as a man who has desperately searched for historical references and stories regarding the land our family now occupies, I can tell you that there is a sense of tragic loss when an old man can’t remember a name or a story. That story is lost forever.
But it didn’t have to be.
We Owe Our Grandchildren Something
This is the WHY behind my journaling and writing. The idea of Regret is a powerful motivator. What will you regret not sharing when it’s all said and done? What stories will never live on to inform and empower a new generation of sons and daughters?
Our children’s children deserve the opportunity to not face the world blindly like we have.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto.